Jacques Chirac

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President of the Republique Francaise. Historical leader of the conservative Gaulliste party.

Born in 1932, Jacques Chirac is a veteran of French politics. He served at different positions in the cabinets of Pompidou, Chaban-Delmas, and Couve De Murville, under the presidency of De Gaulle and Pompidou. He was the first Prime Minister of Giscard D'estaing (1974-76) and the first 'cohabitation' prime minister of Francois Mitterrand (1986-88) ( cohabitation is the situation which occurs when the President and the Parliment are from opposite sides of the political field).

Chirac was also the first Mayor of Paris in contemporary history ( before his tenure Paris had 20 Mayors, one for each arrondissement), from 1977 to 1995, a position in which he exposed himself to legal troubles for murky political financing.

He ran for President and lost to Mitterrand in 1981 and 1988, and finally made it to the presidency in 1995. In 1997, in a political gamble, he dissolved the Parliament and called for anticipated elections, which he lost, forcing him to call a socialist Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin, for the remaining 5 years of his first tenure. He won the presidency again in 2000 after Jospin was unexpectedly defeated in the first round of the election, leaving Chirac in the runoff against the right-wing radical Jean-Marie Le Pen.

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